Why Is It Called The Nicene Creed?

In our Eucharistic celebration we, Roman Catholics, recite our creed before we partake in the body and blood of Christ. In this creed we profess what we believe about our God, our Church and our destiny.  All the members of our church ought to know the meaning of each line in our creed.

I bet many of us have memorized our most well-known creed which is the Apostle’s Creed and probably most of us can recite it very well even while we are sleeping.  But do you know that there are three other versions of our creed? Yes there are four different versions of our creed.  They are the Nicene, the Nicene-Constantinopolitan, the Athanasian, and the Apostle’s Creed.

In this article we will know how and when each version came about. 

Why is it called the Nicene Creed?

In the year 325 AD, Emperor Constantine, still unbaptized in catholic faith at that time, called for a general council to resolve the issue arisen from the Arianism belief that Jesus Christ is not God and is only a creation of God like us. It is called Arianism because this ideology and its supporters were led by Arius of Alexandria.

Emperor Constantine called for the very first council in Nicaea because Arianism was becoming a threat to the empire. Nicaea is a town in Turkey which is now called Iznik.

In this council the Creed of Nicaea was proclaimed and Arianism was declared a heresy or in simple term a wrong belief.    

Nicene Creed was called as such because it was proclaimed in the first council of Nicaea. Nicene is an adjective to indicate something or someone originating or coming from Nicaea.

What Is Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed?

As the name implies, the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed is the revised version of the Nicene Creed as a result of the second ecumenical council held in Constantinople in the year 381 AD. In this version the following clause was added:

“We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord the giver of life. Who proceeds from the Father and the Son, Who together with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, Who spoke by the prophets.

 We believe in one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. We acknowledge one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins, and we look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.”

This is also accepted by other Christian Churches except for Easter Orthodox Catholics. Why? Because they believe that the phrase.’ the Son’ also known as the Filioque Clause,  is a theological mistake for it is making the Holy Spirit inferior and unequal with God the Son. The Roman or Western Catholics disagreed to this claim reasoning that the phrase is not lowering the level of Holy Spirit but simply stating that the Holy Spirit is proceeding or coming from the Father through His Son Jesus Christ.  This is based from the New Testament as follows.

John15:26 –

‘But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father,  He will bear witness to me.’

Another reason cited for rejecting the clause is that the Eastern Orthodox Church believes it to be an authorized modification of the Nicene Creed.

What is the Apostles’ Creed?

It is called Apostles creed because it was believed to be authored by the twelve apostles of Christ. After deeper studies and investigations by different bible scholars, it was declared that the creed may have been written and introduced to Christian Churches from the second to the ninth centuries contrary to the original belief.

The Apostles’ Creed is shorter than the Nicene Creed. There are items mentioned in the Nicene Creed which are not existing in the Apostles’ Creed. One of which is the emphasis on the divinity of Christ and the Holy Spirit.  This is the reason why it is believed to be written prior the Nicene Creed because the Nicene Creed was created to finally resolve the issue on Christ’s and Holy Spirit’s divinity which believed to be not yet a big  issue when the Apostle’s Creed was written and emphasis to the matter (divinity of Christ and Holy Spirit)  was unnecessary. 

The Apostle’s Creed is being used for the confession of faith during baptism. On a personal note, this the creed I grew up with.

What Is Athanasian Creed?

It was believed that St.  Athanasius of Alexandria authored this creed because of its strong emphasis on the equality of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. St.  Athanasius is a strong believer of this equality.

In 1600s , this belief was rejected for few good reasons one of which is that the oldest found version of the creed is in Latin  which strongly suggested  that it was not  Saint Athanasius  who wrote it for he is a Greek and composed only in Greek.

The Athanasian creed is also called Quicunque Vult or Quicumque Vult in latin because these are its opening words. These translates to “Whoever Wishes” in English.

This creed contains consequences of not believing in the Catholic faith thus it is no being used by other Christian Churches such as Anglicans and Protestants.

These are every interesting facts about our Catholic Creed aren’t they? We hope you liked the article. If you did please share it with your friends and share True Home Joy.

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3 thoughts on “Why Is It Called The Nicene Creed?”

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